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    Custom program developed for Health Science leaders

    Health Sciences Leadership Series

    A program designed to improve the leadership capabilities and communication skills of Health Sciences faculty members.

    Visit the Faculty of Health Sciences website to register.

    By Mark Kerr, Senior Communications Officer

    Health Sciences faculty members spend years training for their roles as educators, researchers and scholars. In many cases, though, there aren'™t the same opportunities to develop specific skills required for their administrative and managerial duties.

    The Office of Faculty Development in the Faculty of Health Sciences aims to change that by collaborating with the Human Resources Department on a new management development program. The Health Sciences Leadership Series will launch this September with the first cohort of 30 participants completing six full-day sessions throughout 2014-15.

    "This program is modelled after one that myself and a number of other faculty had the opportunity to take several years ago," says Tony Sanfilippo, Associate Dean, Undergraduate Education, Faculty of Health Sciences. "In retrospect, the content has proven to be highly relevant and practical. The Health Sciences Leadership Series will be invaluable to any faculty members charged with administrative responsibilities or curricular development."

    Human Resources designed the program specifically for Health Sciences faculty members. The material will cover challenges, situations and conflicts they will encounter in their day-to-day work. Dr. Sanfilippo says participants will gain a deeper understanding of their leadership capabilities, expand their communication skills, enhance their project management skills, and improve their ability to build relationships both within and outside their department.

    The Health Sciences Leadership Series will be invaluable to any faculty members charged with administrative responsibilities or curricular development.

    Tony Sanfilippo, Associate Dean, Faculty of Health Sciences.

    With the Health Sciences Leadership Series, Queen's Human Resources Department continues to expand its leadership development programming. The department has offered a similar program for non-academic managers since 2009.

    "œWe are excited to partner with the Faculty of Health Sciences to extend this valuable leadership training to their faculty members," says Al Orth, Associate Vice-Principal, Human Resources. "We are hopeful that the positive outcomes of this series will result in opportunities to work with other faculties on similar programs in the future."

    The series has the added benefit of meeting the accreditation criteria for two professional organizations. It is an accredited group learning activity for the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada. The program also meets the accreditation criteria of the College of Family Physicians of Canada.

    Online registration is now open with the first session slated to take place Sept. 16. More information is available on the Faculty of Health Sciences website or by contacting Shannon Hill, Learning Development Specialist, Human Resources, at ext. 74175.

    Taking back health care

    Health Sciences Dean Jane Philpott is sending a message that Canadian health care needs to change and the country’s post-secondary education sector can lead the way.

    Photograph of Jane Philpott, dean of Queen's Health Sciences
    Jane Philpott is the co-author of a new report that is urging Canadians to ask more from their health systems.

    Health care is one of the most pressing topics in Canada today. With a proposal for significant new federal spending recently announced, there is a lot of debate about how best to improve a system in crisis.

    Jane Philpott, Dean of Queen’s Health Sciences, is playing an important role in this ongoing discussion. She has been a national voice on the topic and received widespread media attention for the report she has co-authored with other leaders of health care, postsecondary education, and the private sector. Taking Back Health Care, which has been released as part of The Public Policy Forum’s Future of Health Care initiative, identifies many areas of the Canadian health system that need to be modernized, including access to care, data strategy, and performance standards. The report also makes the case that the renewal of the health care system needs to be driven by the expectations of Canadians above all.

    The Queen’s Gazette spoke with Dr. Philpott about the new report and the role of universities in contributing to change.

    Taking Back Health Care looks at many different facets of the health care system, and it’s calling for transformational change. Why are you making this case now?

    People in Canada have always been proud of our health care systems, but the strains of the pandemic have highlighted the shortcomings, such as the shortage of primary care providers, outdated approaches to technology and patient data, and overly long wait times for procedures. All those problems have intensified during the past few years, leaving us with health care systems in crisis and struggling to meet our needs. Canadians are becoming increasingly aware that something needs to be done. If we want to save our care systems, we can’t wait any longer.

    To make meaningful changes, we need to understand that the problem is not a lack of funding. Canada spends more on health care than most high-income countries while falling short on equity and excellence. The problem is that we don’t have clear expectations for how our health systems should work and what they should achieve. Taking Back Health Care starts a conversation about how Canadians need to ask for more from our health systems. Because they belong to all of us, not just governments and policymakers.

    You have seen health care systems from a wide variety of perspectives, including chief of family medicine at a hospital, federal health minister, and dean. What are some of the key changes that you believe could dramatically improve our health care systems?

    One of the major problems we’re seeing is that many people in Canada do not have access to primary care. We need to make it an expectation that every person has access to a primary care team within 30 minutes of their home or place of work. We can connect significantly more people to primary care by rethinking the model of delivery we use now, which is largely small businesses providing physician-led care. We need to invest in creating primary care teams that draw on the expertise of different health professionals beyond family doctors, such as nurses, physiotherapists, occupational therapists, and pharmacists. These teams will enable us to serve many more patients and help alleviate downstream issues, such as delayed diagnosis and hospital overcrowding.

    Another significant change we need to make is giving people timely, accurate information about their own health. By expanding access to data, we can help create user-empowered health care systems, in which people can use their data to help them make informed decisions about their care. It will also help patients share their data with different care providers in different institutions and regions, something that can be unreasonably difficult in the current approach where data is kept in service silos accessible only to certain providers.

    With so much that needs to be rethought about our systems, is there a role for the postsecondary education sector to lead the way in making these changes?

    Postsecondary education is going to be crucial as we move forward, as it is uniquely positioned to foster transformative ideas and train the health care leaders of tomorrow. At Queen’s Health Sciences, we decided we wanted to find ways to lead Canadian health systems into the future when we launched a new strategic plan, Radical Collaboration for a Healthier World, which calls for a revolution in academic health sciences. One goal we lay out in the plan is to become more responsive to the needs of patients and communities. That’s the kind of thinking that health systems will need to embrace to provide people across Canada the care they deserve.

    Our guiding principle for the plan is radical collaboration. A big part of that is moving towards interprofessional and cross-disciplinary education, where students in our Schools of Medicine, Nursing, and Rehabilitation Therapy will have more opportunities for team-based learning to promote a culture of mutual respect. This model of training means students will be well prepared to work in the primary health care teams that will likely become a staple of our systems in the future. By 2026, 20 per cent of curricula in our programs will bring students together across disciplines and professions to learn and solve problems as teams.

    It’s been a little more than a year since the faculty launched the new strategic plan. Can you share some of the progress that’s been made so far?

    One of our strategic priorities is ‘clinical impact in the community and beyond’ and we are currently working on a number of bold and unique initiatives to support this (you can learn more about our progress in our Year 1 Report). Recently, we announced our partnership with the Weeneebayko Area Health Authority (WAHA) and support of the Mastercard Foundation to create a new Health Education Program that will be delivered in the WAHA region. We are working together to create a decolonized, interprofessional curriculum to train Indigenous youth in medicine, nursing, physiotherapy, occupational therapy, midwifery, and paramedicine. It is exciting to think how this can help address the health care challenges facing Northern communities, including the need for culturally-safe care and increasing Indigenous representation within health professions.

    In September, we plan to welcome the first students in a new program that will train much-needed family physicians at a regional campus based at Lakeridge Health in Durham Region. We are building a community-based curriculum solely focused on educating those who intend to work as a family doctor in their local community. This initiative helps address the critical shortage of primary care physicians that negatively impacts our overall health care systems in Canada. We also are using this as an opportunity to upend the status quo by being more productive and effective at training family doctors and developing new models of care.

    Meet one Woman of Influence

    Queen’s student Rachel Ollivier is named one of North America’s Top 25 Women of Influence.

    Rachel Ollivier, PHCNP Diploma Student is named a 2023 Women of Influence+ Photo courtesy of Women of Influence+
    Rachel Ollivier, a Registered Nurse currently enrolled in the Nurse Practitioner diploma program at Queen’s, has been named one of North America’s Top 25 Women of Influence. (Image courtesy of Women of Influence)

    Rachel Ollivier, a Registered Nurse currently enrolled in the Nurse Practitioner diploma program at Queen’s, says she was taken by surprise when she learned she had been named one of this year’s Top 25 Women of Influence for 2023. The annual award celebrates the innovative and courageous accomplishments of self-identified women and gender-diverse role models who have made significant contributions to their respective fields.

    “I was aware of the nomination but was not expecting anything to come of it. When I found out about the award, I was so excited, my hands were shaking” says Dr. Ollivier.

    Dr. Ollivier was chosen out of hundreds of nominations from across Canada and the United States for her work and research related to global maternal health and postpartum sexual health, the focus of her doctorate completed at Dalhousie University. This year’s list of recipients includes Allison Forsyth, two-time Canadian Olympian, safe sport advocate, and partner and COO, ITP Sport and Recreation; Domee Shi, Oscar-winning director; and Christine Sinclair, four-time Canadian Olympian and professional soccer player.

    “We are thrilled to be honouring and celebrating the remarkable work of this year’s recipients,” says Rumeet Billan, CEO, Women of Influence+. “Each woman on this year’s list has made their mark in the past year, whether by spearheading initiatives for the greater good, achieving inspiring feats on a global scale, or utilizing their influence to effect tangible change. Our list includes women from all walks of life who have dedicated their work to breaking boundaries, setting new standards, and rewriting the narrative of what is possible. We are excited to shine a spotlight on their achievements and know that their stories will inspire others and future generations.”

    Dr. Ollivier's global and local health work has spanned education, research, and practice, with an emphasis on women’s postpartum sexual health. She collaborated with local care providers in Zambia to develop updated neonatal fluid resuscitation practice policies, involvement with hypertension research in Zambia and maternal health research in Tanzania and guest lecturing in graduate-level nursing courses in Tanzania, in addition to collaborating with the White Ribbon Alliance to advance women's health care in the country.

    Dr. Ollivier also worked on two systematic review papers which were commissioned by the World Health Organization to inform their updated maternal health guidelines. They are now published in JBI Evidence Synthesis, a global organization promoting and supporting evidence-based decisions that improve health and health service delivery.

    Her doctoral research sought to explore sexual health after birth in innovative ways.

    “In Nova Scotia, I created the first patient educational tool on sexual health after birth and was intentional in ensuring that it was relevant and useful for patients while also using gender-affirming language” Dr. Ollivier says.

    While working as a travel nurse in rural and remote areas of British Columbia, she shared recommendations for practice with various health care teams to promote postpartum wellbeing and access to information about sexual health postpartum.

    In November 2022, she was elected to the board of directors for the Canadian Association of Perinatal & Women’s Health Nurses, a non-profit organization that aims to provide national leadership in women’s and maternal health nursing.

     Dr. Ollivier is currently enrolled in the one-year Nurse Practitioner diploma program for students who already hold a Master's or PhD in nursing.

    “This sort of condensed program can be difficult to find outside of Ontario, though the opportunity to complete my diploma at Queen's seemed like the perfect fit given the variety of clinical placements that are available in this area. It was also comforting to have familiar faces among the faculty here, having previously worked with and/or been taught by Dr. Danielle Macdonald and Dr. Erna Snelgrove-Clarke.”

    Dr. Ollivier, who is an actively practicing Registered Nurse in three provinces (Ontario, British Columbia, and Nova Scotia), looks forward to a career that combines frontline clinical practice with research. She plans to move out West in September but hopes to continue to partner with faculty here at Queen's and at Dalhousie University.

    Dr. Ollivier will be honoured during the Top 25 Women of Influence Luncheon on April 4, 2023, in Toronto.

    For the Record - March 2, 2023

    For the Record provides postings of appointment, committee, grant, award, and other notices set out by collective agreements and university policies and processes. It is the university’s primary vehicle for sharing this information with our community.

    Submit For the Record information for posting to Gazette editor Andrew Carroll.

    Headship Search Committee - Department of Family Medicine

    Dr. Michael Green’s appointment as head of the Department of Family Medicine will end on Oct. 31, 2023. In accordance with the Senate document governing the appointment of heads of clinical/academic departments that was approved on March 26, 2009, a joint headship search committee for the Department of Family Medicine has been established. The role of the committee is to provide advice to the Provost and Vice-Principal (Academic) of Queen’s University and to the Board Chairs of the participating hospitals on the present state and future prospects of the department, and to make a recommendation on its future leadership. 

    The composition of the committee is as follows:

    • Dr. Diane Lougheed (co-chair), Vice-Dean, Clinical, Queen’s Health Sciences (QHS)
    • Dr. Roumen Milev (co-chair), Vice-President, Medical and Academic Affairs, Providence Care
    • Kristy Lodewyks (Secretary), Senior Staffing Officer, QHS
    • Dr. Michael Fitzpatrick, Chief of Staff & Executive Vice President Medical and Academic Affairs, Kingston Health Sciences Centre (KHSC)
    • Allison Philpot, Executive Director, Medical Affairs, Patient Flow & Research, Providence Care
    • Jason Hann, Executive Vice President, Patient Care and Chief Nursing Executive, KHSC
    • Dr. Eva Purkey, Assistant Professor and Director of Global Health/Health Equity Program, Department of Family Medicine, QHS
    • Dr. Denyse Richardson, Head and Associate Professor, Department of Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation Therapy, QHS
    • Dr. Shayna Watson, Assistant Professor, Department of Family Medicine, QHS
    • Dr. Imaan Bayoumi, Assistant Professor, Department of Family Medicine, QHS
    • Dr. Michael Suddard, Incoming Kingston & Thousand Islands (KTI) Co-lead Resident, Department of Family Medicine, QHS
    • Dr. Jesse Tabije, Incoming Program Lead Resident, Department of Family Medicine, QHS

    In applying the process, the committee is consulting widely, through correspondence, with members of the department’s faculty and staff, students, residents, members of the teaching hospitals, and other members of the university and health sciences communities, as appropriate.

    We invite you to submit your comments on the present state and future prospects of the Department of Family Medicine, as well as the names of possible candidates for the headship and the reasons for supporting each nominee. Submissions may be made to the co-chairs via Microsoft Forms or email to qhsstaffing@queensu.ca.  

    While submissions will be accepted throughout the search process, it will be advantageous for the committee to have them early on. Responses received will remain confidential and will be shared only with the members of the review committee. Anonymous submissions will not be considered; however, names, letterhead/e-mail header, and/or signature block of those who respond will be masked on the copy that is circulated to committee members.

    A new partnership to prepare Indigenous students for healthcare careers

    Queen’s Weeneebayko Health Education Program launched with support from the Mastercard Foundation to transform Indigenous healthcare in the James Bay region.

    The Weeneebayko Area Health Authority (WAHA), Queen’s University, and the Mastercard Foundation are partnering to transform healthcare in Northeastern Ontario and to expand education and employment opportunities for Indigenous youth by creating the Queen’s Weeneebayko Health Education Program.

    WAHA and Queen’s Health Sciences will co-develop a university curriculum for health professions training in the western James Bay region. The program will prepare Indigenous students for careers in medicine, nursing, midwifery, and other health professions through culturally-informed education. Programming and resources will also be created to enable local youth to envision, pursue, and succeed in health professions training right from high school.

    “This is a very important initiative for the Weeneebayko Region that will help increase the capacity for culturally-safe healthcare that is directed and delivered by health professionals from our communities,” says Lynne Innes, President and Chief Executive Officer, Weeneebayko Area Health Authority. “It is exciting to work together on this new approach that will support Indigenous youth as they pursue healthcare careers and build a stronger, healthier future for the communities we serve.” 

    The initiative aims to address healthcare challenges facing remote, Indigenous communities, including low accessibility to providers and facilities, the need for cultural safety, health outcome gaps, and underrepresentation of Indigenous peoples amongst health professionals.

    “This project builds on a long-standing relationship between Queen’s, the Weeneebayko Area Health Authority, and the communities of the James Bay region,” says the Honourable Murray Sinclair, Queen's Chancellor. “It offers hope for Reconciliation through new approaches to educating and supporting Indigenous youth in pursuing careers in healthcare. I believe this can help deliver the transformation needed in Indigenous healthcare in Canada.”

    The vision is to establish a new training site in Moosonee that will serve coastal community sites. The training programs will help build comprehensive, sustainable, community-centred healthcare—improving patient outcomes and addressing gaps in delivery. Training within Indigenous communities will bolster workforce retention and graduate professionals capable of providing culturally appropriate care.

    The Mastercard Foundation is involved in this partnership through its EleV Program, which aims to support 100,000 Indigenous young people on their pathways through education and onto meaningful livelihoods by 2030. The Mastercard Foundation committed more than $31 million to support this partnership.

    “The Foundation is making a commitment to support sustainable, systemic change in healthcare education and delivery as led by First Nations youth, communities and leadership in the region,” says Jennifer Brennan, Director of Canada Programs at the Mastercard Foundation.

    “WAHA’s deep partnership with Queen’s University, and their shared experience and expertise, holds potential for real transformation in the region and beyond. Our aim is to get behind innovative approaches that create meaningful opportunities for First Nations youth based on their cultures, values, and aspirations.”

    The health professions training program builds upon a nearly six-decade relationship between Queen’s and Weeneebayko Area health facilities anchored in training, frontline care, and research. Enrollment could start as early as September 2025, with an ultimate enrollment of 240 students per year, across the health professions.

    The curricula will be co-created by WAHA and Queen’s, with guidance from community members. Key aspects include:

    • Decolonized approach: Indigenous ways of knowing integrated throughout
    • Interprofessional: an interprofessional curriculum designed to break down professional silos and prepare graduates to deliver patient care using team-based approaches  
    • Mentorship: a mentorship into practice program will promote graduate retention within local communities
    • Culturally safe care: training will be situated within Indigenous communities and will graduate professionals prepared to deliver the care their communities need 
    • Retention: a student recruitment, placement, and mentorship strategy to retain program graduates in Indigenous communities over the long term

    The partnership will also establish a Health Career Pathways Program to provide career counselling, resources, mentorship, and application support, as well as build access to prerequisite courses to support applications in health sciences. As part of the program’s soft launch, high school students from WAHA communities took part in a week-long, immersive health sciences camp at Queen’s in August 2022.

    “This program will support Indigenous health transformation – improving regional health outcomes, addressing gaps in care delivery, and building the Indigenous health workforce,” says Jane Philpott, Dean, Queen’s Health Sciences. “We look forward to building this dynamic educational model alongside the Weeneebayko Area Health Authority and local Indigenous leaders, and we thank the Mastercard Foundation for supporting this crucial work.”

    Fighting cancer with living drugs

    Cell therapy is changing how we treat cancer, and Annette Hay is working at the forefront of this very big wave.

    Photograph of Annette Hay
    Annette Hay is a co-founder of a Canadian network of specialists that is working to make cell therapies more accessible to cancer patients.

    When Annette Hay was in medical school in Scotland in the early 2000s, cell therapy wasn’t even a topic in the curriculum. In 2019, she saw it save the life of young man with leukemia who had exhausted every other option.

    “He was in his early twenties, and he was about to die of his disease. We’d tried everything we knew how to do, and nothing was working,” says Dr. Hay, Associate Professor in the Queen’s Department of Medicine and Senior Investigator with the Canadian Cancer Trials Group. “We managed to get cell therapy for him, and now he is in remission and getting on with life.”

    While Dr. Hay was already interested in cell therapies by this time, this remarkable clinical turnaround focused her attention on the promise of this rapidly developing method of treatment. At the same time, the story also illustrated how far cell therapy still needs to go to reach its full potential, as the young man nearly died waiting a month for the engineered cells to arrive from the United States.

    Dr. Hay saw the opportunity for a new system to advance cell therapies and get them to patients much sooner. She began discussions with colleagues across the country and, along with Jonathan Bramson of McMaster, established ExCELLirate Canada. This newly formed network brings together existing expertise from organizations and individuals across Canada so they can leverage each others’ resources, coordinate efforts, identify gaps, and fill them. ExCELLirate Canada’s goal is to develop and test new cell therapies and create an economic framework to make them more accessible.  

    One of Dr. Hay’s roles in ExCELLirate Canada is to help organize clinical trials in cell therapy through the Canadian Cancer Trials Group (CCTG), a Queen’s-based cooperative oncology organization with an expansive network of investigators.

    The Queen’s Gazette recently connected with Dr. Hay to learn more about cell therapy and the ways in which microscopic “living drugs” could soon lead to sweeping changes in how we treat cancer. In the not-too-distant future, according to Dr. Hay, the body’s own cells – rather than treatments like surgery or chemotherapy – could become the frontline defense against the disease.

    Let’s start with the basics. What is cell therapy and how does it work?

    It’s a revolutionary way of treating cancer by using the body’s own immune system. The specific form of cell therapy we use now is called CAR T-cell therapy, short for Chimeric Antigen Receptor T-cell therapy. It starts by taking a patient’s own blood cells — their lymphocytes — and engineering them to make them recognize the cancer. Then you produce millions of the enhanced cells and infuse them back into the patient so they can kill the cancer cells. That engineering is an involved process, because you’re essentially manufacturing a living drug. This kind of cellular engineering can only be done in a biomanufacturing factory set up to do it, and there’s a limited number of those in North America.

    It sounds like cell therapy has come a long way in a short period of time. How has the field evolved in recent years?

    It’s evolved incredibly quickly. Effectively, it didn’t exist even ten years ago. Over the last three or four years it went from something that we started to hear about in clinical trials to being an established, funded standard of care for people in Canada who have certain types of leukemia and lymphoma. There are three cell therapy products that are available in Canada, and one more is expected imminently. And there are hundreds of clinical trials testing lots of different types of cell and gene therapy products in cancer as well as other diseases, such as HIV, sickle cell anemia, and hemophilia. While the currently approved cell therapies only work against blood cancers, it’s only a matter of time until we learn how to use the method to fight against solid tumours as well. So, it’s exploding now. I feel as if we’re still at the start of a very big wave.

    Now that ExCELLirate Canada is off the ground, what role are you and the Canadian Cancer Trials Group (CCTG) playing in the development of new cell therapies?

    Other organizations and individuals in the network bring expertise in biomanufacturing and the discovery of novel therapies. We specialize in clinical trials, and we are developing multi-centre clinical trials that incorporate the expertise of the entire ExCELLirate Canada network. CCTG is uniquely positioned to lead these complex collaborative trials with the established investigator network across Canada and internationally. No other organization in the country has the same scope and track record.

    You say you want the ExCELLirate team to address the challenges that are preventing cell therapies from being used to their full potential. What are some of those challenges?

    There are two different sets of challenges, those we’re facing right now and those we’ll face in the future. Right now, we need to make sure that as many people as possible who may benefit from the approved products can get them. There are a few things standing in the way of reaching that goal. It’s a mix of cost, hospital capacity, and time.

    Right now, it costs around $400,000 (USD) for a dose of CAR T-cells. If the price tag stays there, it is never going to reach its full potential. There’s also more demand for cell therapy than there is capacity to provide it. It can take more than a month to secure a manufacturing slot and make the cells patients need, and they sometimes die waiting for the treatment. We need to deliver the therapies more efficiently in order for patients to receive the full benefits.

    The delays and costs are compounded by the fact that most people have to travel to access cell therapies. Patients used to have to travel to the United States for treatment but now you can usually go to Ottawa or another city in Canada. But we’re working to expand the number of places you can receive cell therapy even further. Locally, we’re working to establish Kingston Health Sciences Centre as an approved centre for CAR T-cell therapy, so we can treat our own patients here. We’re aiming to have this completed by the end of 2023.

    For the future, we need to prepare to scale up for the tsunami of demand that’s coming.

    What do you think the future of cell therapy could look like?

    This field is evolving so quickly, nobody knows what it will look like even ten years from now. But it is definitely here to stay. It is a whole new way of approaching cancer. It’s going to expand. We’ll be continually finessing the products patients use to make them more effective and safer. So, we probably won’t be using the treatments we’re using today ten years from now.

    If cell therapy reaches its full potential, we’ll see it available to patients with a wide variety of cancers, achieving meaningful clinical responses – ideally, cures. I would love to see it become affordable enough to be widely available in developing countries, not just wealthy ones.

    I think cell therapy will expand beyond cancer and become an effective treatment for numerous other conditions, including hereditary conditions, autoimmune conditions, and infections.


    Learn more about cell therapy in a talk Dr. Hay gave for the 5 á 7 Research Talks series for Queen’s Health Sciences and on the ExCELLirate Canada website.

    Health research programs secure federal funding

    Ten successful Queen’s research applicants will receive a total of $6.48 million.

    The Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) have released the results of their latest Project Grant competition. Seven Queen’s researchers were awarded funds for projects spanning from cancer to autism and social determinants of health. Another three researchers were listed as Priority Announcements, that provide additional sources of potential funding to projects that are relevant to CIHR and partners. In total, Queen’s secured $6.48 million in federal funding for health research.

    “Queen’s researchers are at the forefront of novel advances in health research,” says Nancy Ross, Vice-Principal (Research). “The impact of their work is felt around the world and in our local communities as they work to improve quality of life for all. This funding from CIHR will help researchers at Queen’s build on this momentum and translate research into action.”

    Learn more about the funded researchers and their programs:

    Project Grant awardees

    Bruce Banfield (Biomedical and Molecular Sciences) is an expert on viruses, with a focus on the study of the herpes simplex virus types 1 and 2 (HSV-1 and HSV-2). Both viruses cause lifelong infections for which there is no cure, and which can be severe in people with compromised immune systems. Dr. Banfield’s research program aims to deepen our understanding of HSV replication with an aim to identifying new antiviral drug targets. Funding amount: $856,800.

    Elizabeth Kelley (Psychology, Psychiatry, and Centre for Neuroscience Studies) focuses on autistic children and adolescents, investigating everything from patterns of early development in autism to depression in autistic adolescents. She will test an online program to teach parents across Ontario how to encourage social-communication behaviours and discourage behaviours that interfere with their children’s learning. One of her main goals is that the virtual platform can help reduce the wait for treatment and make it more accessible for families in rural and remote communities. Funding amount: $439,875.

    Christopher Mueller (Queen’s Cancer Research Institute) has been investigating new strategies to extend the lives of women with metastatic breast cancer. He led the development of a blood test that will be used to determine if a given patient is responding well to the treatment of choice within the first few weeks of therapy. This grant will allow the team to start a clinical trial in Kingston and Ottawa that will show if the new blood test can be used to guide clinical decisions and help physicians provide the most effective treatment for each patient. Funding amount: $891,226.

    Maria Ospina (Public Health Sciences) is an epidemiologist and population health researcher focusing on maternal and perinatal health. In this project in collaboration with the University of Alberta, the University of Calgary, McMaster University, and Cork University (Ireland) she will recruit 600 pregnant persons and assess them and their babies up to three years after birth. The proposed research will evaluate whether mothers’ social living conditions influence the gut bacteria of the mother and child, and whether gut bacteria is a biological link that explains how maternal social circumstances influence their mental health and child’s neurodevelopment. Funding amount: $1,350,225.

    Patrick Stroman (Centre for Neuroscience Studies) develops methods to apply functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to the study of the central nervous system. This research program will explore fMRI to investigate pain in patients with fibromyalgia, a chronic condition that, while it affects roughly a million people in Canada, is poorly understood. The team will look at why people with fibromyalgia experience heightened pain, exploring the neurobiological basis of pain. Funding amount: $646,425

    Xiaolong Yang (Pathology and Molecular Medicine) researches how cancer initiates, progresses, and resists to drugs. This program will investigate the role of a group of genes called “Hippo” in breast cancer spreading and metastasis. The results will inform the development of new treatment strategies that target metastasis, which accounts for over 90 per cent of breast cancer fatalities. Funding amount: $956,250

    Shetuan Zhang (Biomedical and Molecular Sciences) focuses on the molecular mechanisms of cardiac arrhythmias and sudden cardiac death. In collaboration with Drs. Adrian Baranchuk and Mohammad El Diasty (Medicine), his current research is unravelling the role of inflammation enzymes in the most common complication following heart surgery: irregular heartbeat initiated in the atria (the two upper chambers of the heart). The goal is to explore novel ways to prevent and treat post-operative irregular heartbeat, which can cause adverse effects and even death. Funding amount: $1,048,050

    Priority Announcements

    Elijah Bisung (Kinesiology and Health Studies) is a health geographer whose current research activities focus the connections between health and the social and physical environments with an emphasis on bridging science and practice. This project focuses on the challenges brought on by COVID-19 in sub-Saharan Africa, particularly Ghana, Guinea, and Liberia. Dr. Bisung is working with partners at University of Toronto, University of British Columbia, University of Allied Health Sciences, Ghana and Centre d’Excellence Africain pour la Prévention et le Contrôle des Maladies Transmissibles (CEA-PCMT) to explore strategies to build and sustain trust in public health institutions. Funding amount: $100,000.

    Josee-Lyne Ethier (Oncology) conducts population-based research to evaluate the effectiveness of cancer therapies. In this program, she will examine data from patients that received ovarian cancer treatment in Ontario to identify if maintenance therapy after surgery and chemotherapy led to better long-term outcomes, delaying recurrence and prolonging survival. Funding amount: $100,000.

    Chandrakant Tayade (Biomedical and Molecular Sciences) is an expert on endometriosis, a disease in which the lining of the uterus – or endometrium – grows on other organs in the pelvic cavity, such as bowel, bladder, and ovaries. Endometriosis can lead to infertility, but there’s still no cure for it, and the diagnostic requires an invasive surgical procedure. This research program will study the use of interleukin 33 (IL-33), a protein associated with lesion growth, blood supply and pain in endometriosis, to develop new therapeutic and diagnostic strategies. Funding amount: $100,000.

    Learn more about the grants on the CIHR website.

    Transitions in Care

    CIHR also announced the results of its team grant Transitions in Care, in partnership with The Rossy Foundation. A multi-institutional team led by Queen's Professor Anne Duffy (Psychiatry) received $480,000 from CIHR, plus $480,000 from the funding partner, to further develop a novel translational research program. The team works in partnership with students to engage them, from entry to university and over the course of undergraduate studies, in a conversation about their mental health using a digital survey. Findings are translated into sustainable and scalable resources organized in a stepped care framework. The initiatives include a digital accredited mental health literacy course offered as an interdisciplinary elective and a digital wellbeing platform where students can access tailored wellbeing plans, wellbeing self-monitoring tools, and based on their entries, are signposted to wellness resources. This work is also being adapted and evaluated across six universities in the UK with the support of a large MRC grant, which allows the team to compare findings between universities and countries. Learn more.

    The gift of caregiving

    Queen’s researcher Afolasade Fakolade is examining the many challenges faced by those who step in to be caregivers for family or friends.

    Afolasade Fakolade
    Dr. Afolasade Fakolade and team surveyed 500 family caregivers in Canada to learn more about their experiences.

    One in four Canadians provide unpaid care for a family member or close friend with aging-related needs, chronic diseases, or disabilities. These caregivers sacrifice time and resources to be there for their loved ones when services like personal support and specialized homecare are limited or unavailable, and they often do so with little training, support, and recognition. Because the wellbeing of care-recipients is highly dependent on the wellbeing of their caregivers, Afolasade Fakolade, assistant professor in the School of Rehabilitation Therapy, is motived to understand how we can better care for family caregivers.

    Caregivers often fall through the cracks in terms of supports – a challenge Dr. Fakolade has faced herself. Shortly after graduating as a physiotherapist, she took up the role of a caregiver for her mother, diagnosed with a serious medical condition. She soon found out that nothing in her professional training could have prepared her for this situation – the physical, psychological, and economic impacts of being a family caregiver.

    Her research program focuses on family caregivers of people with multiple sclerosis (MS), a chronic disease often diagnosed in early adulthood that affects the brain and spinal cord and can cause physical, psychological, and cognitive symptoms. Some individuals with MS have limited ability to engage in daily activities, like walking, speaking, or writing.

    “The MS caregiving role can last a lifetime,” says Dr. Fakolade. “Some caregivers provide care for more than five decades, which means that caregivers and their care-recipients are together navigating major life milestones like career-building and parenthood, while managing the disease.”

    Positive outcomes of caring – and how to get there

    While caregiving is often associated with negative outcomes – high levels of fatigue, anxiety, and depression, social isolation, poor quality of life – Dr. Fakolade is interested in the rewarding and satisfying side of caring for loved ones.

    For the past three years, her team has been accompanying 500 family caregivers that support people with MS in Canada. The caregivers participate in annual surveys about how they maintain their wellbeing and are asked to share personal experiences of caregiving and wellness.

    Can technology help?
    Dr. Fakolade’s research program is now exploring how computer-based digital technologies can support and enhance the well-being of family caregivers of persons with multiple sclerosis. Her team is currently recruiting volunteers who act as family caregivers of people with MS, have experience providing care for persons with MS and/or their caregivers in formal care settings, and/or have experience providing care/advocacy for persons with MS and/or their caregivers in community-based organizations/settings. Click to learn more.

    “Their stories highlight areas where these unsung heroes are struggling, but most importantly, their stories reflect positive aspects of caregiving and what is needed to ensure that positive experiences become a reality for all caregivers,” says Dr. Fakolade.

    Those interviewed say they have experienced personal growth, an increased sense of self-confidence and self-worth, and a deeper appreciation for life because of their caregiving. They say caregiving has taught them important life skills, such as problem solving, and helped them strengthen their relationships with their loved ones.

    Although these positive experiences are not the norm for most caregivers, they provide insights into how we can better support caregivers and prevent or relieve their struggles. Dr. Fakolade lists four key tools that can improve caregivers’ wellness: quality physical activity, support services rooted in the community, multiple support networks (e.g., family, healthcare workers, church, and community groups), and finally, education about the disease and what to expect as a caregiver.

    Dr. Fakolade strongly believes that assessing and monitoring caregiver wellbeing should also be a priority for our health and social care systems – including funded programs, interventions and services that focus on these individuals. Health and social care providers can play an important role in encouraging caregivers’ selfcare and connecting them with available services and community-based initiatives.

    “As a society, we generally don’t expect people to become military personnel, firefighters, police officers, doctors, or nurses without adequate training and support, yet we think that it’s okay for caregivers to assume this role without preparation, without the tools they need to succeed, and without knowing how to be well. We can do better. We have the capacity to do better,” says Dr. Fakolade.

    Watch Dr. Fakolade's presentation as part of the Cinq à Sept Research Talks series:

    Bringing research into focus

    The annual Art of Research photo contest will continue to showcase how the Queen's research community is advancing the United Nations' SDGs and introduce a new video category to capture research in motion.

    [Collage photo with text: Art of Research Photo Contest]

    Taking us behind the scenes of the lab, fieldwork, and the archives, the Art of Research photo contest brings to life the unseen moments of the research process. This year, the hallmark initiative is returning with a new twist: A new video category that will challenge participants to creatively share their research in 30 seconds or less.

    "Through the Art of Research we have catalogued hundreds of images that illuminate what our researchers experience in the pursuit of new knowledge," says Michael Fraser, Vice-Principal (University Relations). "Expanding to video will add another dimension to our storytelling, allowing us to reach and engage new audiences with our research."

    With one video and five photo categories, the contest will once again look at research though lens of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). This focus aligns with the mission and vision of the Queen’s Strategy and our participation in the Times Higher Education Impact Rankings, which measure an institution's impact on society, based on their success in delivering on strategies that advance the SDGs. Queen’s ranked in the top 10 globally in both the 2021 and 2022 Impact Rankings.

    Photo submissions will be accepted from Feb. 8 to March 10, 2023.

    Mobilizing research to new audiences

    For the past six years, the Art of Research has been an opportunity for Queen’s researchers to share their work through compelling visuals and engage the public in seeing their research in new ways. Previous contests have received local and national media attention for their role of showcasing the breadth and diversity of research endeavors at Canadian universities. Here at Queen’s, the images are used to support various aspects of research and SDGs storytelling – across websites, social media, and print collateral.

    "It is important that we find creative and accessible ways to promote our research beyond the academy," says Nancy Ross, Vice-Principal (Research). "The Art of Research has been an effective tool to demonstrate the impact of our work in addressing the challenges of society at home and around the world. I encourage members of our community to participate!"

    Eligibility and prizes

    The contest is open to Queen’s faculty, staff, students, and alumni. Research depicted in the submissions must have been completed at Queen’s or while the submitter was affiliated with the university. Five SDG-themed photo categories and one video category will be offered this year. These add up to a total of six prizes of $250 each for the top submission in each category. More information about contest rules can be found on the Research@Queen’s website.

    2023 categories:

    Good health and wellbeing

    Research that advances our understanding and the improvement of human health and supports the wellbeing of all global citizens.

    Inspired by SDGs 1 (No Poverty), 2 (Zero Hunger), and 3 (Good Health and Well-Being)

    Climate action

    Research that seeks to protect our planet’s natural resources, including water, biodiversity, and climate for future generations.

    Inspired by SDGs 6 (Clean Water and Sanitation), 7 (Affordable and Clean Energy), 13 (Climate Action), 14 (Life Below Water), and 15 (Life on Land)

    Creative and sustainable communities

    Research that helps us to understand our past and present to help build resilient, sustainably-focused, and creative communities.

    Inspired by SDGs 11 (Sustainable Cities and Communities), 12 (Responsible Consumption and Production), and 16 (Peace, Justice, and Strong Institutions)

    Partnerships for inclusivity

    Research that promotes just and inclusive societies through partnerships and community-based research.

    Inspired by SDGs 4 (Quality Education), 5 (Gender Equality), 8 (Decent Work and Economic Growth), and 10 (Reduced Inequalities)

    Innovation for global impact

    Discovery- and curiosity-based research and innovations that addresses wicked, complex global challenges.

    Inspired by SDGs 9 (Industry, Innovation, and Infrastructure) and 17 (Partnerships for the Goals)

    Research in motion

    A video 30 seconds or less that captures the pursuit of your research in action and shows us behind the scenes of where it takes place, from the lab to the field or the archive.

    The contest closes on March 10. To submit an entry and explore winning images from previous contests, visit the Research@Queen’s website.

    Storytelling allows elders to transfer values and meaning to younger generations

    Repeated storytelling from elderly relatives doesn’t necessarily signal age or cognitive decline. It’s about conveying memories and values to a new generation.

    A grandmother kisses the forehead of her granddaughter
    People don’t necessarily tell the same stories over and over again because they’re losing cognitive function, but because the stories are important, and they feel we need to know them. (Unsplash/Hillary Peralta)

    If you spent time over the holidays with elderly relatives or friends, you may have heard many of the same stories repeated — perhaps stories you’d heard over the years, or even over the past few hours.

    The Conversation logoRepeated storytelling can sometimes be unnerving for friends and families, raising concerns about a loved one’s potential cognitive decline, memory loss or perhaps even the onset of dementia.

    Our research at Queen’s University suggests there is another way to think about repeated storytelling that makes it easier to listen and engage with the stories. We interviewed 20 middle-aged adults who felt they had heard the same stories over and over from their aging parent. We asked them to tell us those stories and we recorded and transcribed them.

    We used a narrative inquiry approach to discover that repeated storytelling is a key method for elders to communicate what they believe to be important to their children and loved ones. Narrative inquiry uses the text of stories as research data to explore how people create meaning in their lives.

    Transmitting values

    Based on nearly 200 collected stories, we found that there are approximately 10 stories that older parents repeatedly tell to their adult children.

    The hypothesis was that repeated storytelling was about inter-generational transmission of values. By exploring the themes of those repeated stories, we could uncover the meaning and messages elders were communicating to their loved ones.

    The ultimate purpose was to offer a new and more constructive way of thinking about stories that we’ve heard many times before, and that can be otherwise perceived as alarming.

    Here’s what we have learned:

    1. There are typically just 10 stories that people tell repeatedly. While 10 is not a magic number, it does seem to be about the right number to capture the stories that are told over and over. Interviewees felt that a set of approximately 10 allowed them to do justice to their parent’s stories.

    2. Among our interviewees, a significant number of their parents’ stories – 87 per cent — took place when they were in their teens or twenties. A person’s second and third decades are a time when they make many of the decisions that shape the rest of their lives; a time when values are consolidated and the adult identity is formed

    3. What’s important about the 10 stories is not the factual details, but the lesson that was learned, or the value that was reinforced — values like loyalty toward friends, putting family first, maintaining a sense of humour even in hard times, getting an education, speaking up against injustice, and doing what’s right.

    4. Key themes in the stories reflected the significant events and prevailing values of the early to mid-20th century. Many of the stories revolved around the war, and both domestic and overseas experiences that were formative. Many of our interviewees heard stories about immigrating to Canada, starting out with very little, seeking a better life and working hard. Stories often reflected a more formal time when it was important to uphold standards, make a good impression, know one’s place and adhere to the rules.

    5. The stories elders tell appear to be curated for the individual receiving them. They would be different if told to another child, a spouse or a friend.

    A younger man walks up a set of stairs listening to an elderly man.
    Many of the stories elderly people told their family and friends revolved around experiences that were formative. (Unsplash/John Moeses Buaun)

    Tips for listening

    Our research offers some tips for listening to stories from elders:

    • Focus on just 10 stories. It can make the listening seem less overwhelming.

    • Write them down. Writing challenges us to get the story straight.

    • Notice your loved one’s role in the story, as the message is often contained in that role.

    • Be attentive to feelings, sensations, tension and discomfort. These can be signals or clues to the meaning of a story.

    • Finally, remember these stories are for you — selected and told in the context of your relationship with your loved one. As such, they are a gift from a loved one who is running out of time.

    The importance of receiving stories

    Storytelling is an essential human process and a universal experience associated with aging. Neuroscientists suggest that storytelling has practical survival value for individuals and communities, as well as social and psychological benefits.

    It may be as powerful as medication or therapy for overcoming depression among elders. Storytelling becomes especially important when people become aware of their mortality — when they are ill, suffering or facing death.

    People don’t necessarily tell the same stories over and over again because they’re losing cognitive function, but because the stories are important, and they feel we need to know them. Telling stories repeatedly isn’t about forgetfulness or dementia. It’s an effort to share what’s important.

    Our hope is that by better understanding elderly storytelling, caregivers may be able to listen in a different way to those repeated stories and understand the messages they contain. Those 10 stories can help us to know our loved one at a deeper level and assist our parent or grandparent with an important developmental task of old age.

    This research offers a constructive way for caregivers to hear the repeated stories told by their aging parents, and to offer their loved one the gift of knowing they have been seen and heard.The Conversation


    Mary Ann McColl, Professor, School of Rehabilitation Therapy, Queen's University

    This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

    The Conversation is seeking new academic contributors. Researchers wishing to write articles should contact Melinda Knox, Director, Thought Leadership and Strategic Initiatives, at knoxm@queensu.ca.


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